Review: The World Goes Round, Pheasantry

“What dancing in the park? What laughter in the dark?”

I always find it hard to write much about cabarets that doesn’t just end up as a list of the songs sung, so I’m keeping it short for this one. With the extensive tour of Anything Goes shortened by economic necessity, opportunities to see its leading lady Debbie Kurup again have become available sooner rather than later which has proven something of a bonus. She’ll be in Rhythm of Life, a Cy Coleman celebration later this week but right now she is delving into the work of John Kander and Fred Ebb in The World Goes Round, a cabaret first put together in 1991.

It cherry-picks from a wide range of Kander and Ebb’s collaborations, for film and TV as well as stage, and digs deep into the catalogue to feature lesser known shows like The Happy Time and The Act as well as the marquee numbers like Cabaret and Chicago. And as such it makes for an interesting journey through some brilliant songwriting and in the intimate surroundings of The Pheasantry in this Speckulation Entertainments prodiction, some excellent musicianship from the band of three led by Kris Rawlinson. Continue reading “Review: The World Goes Round, Pheasantry”

Review: Godspell, Ye Olde Rose and Crown

“We all need help to feel fine, let’s have some wine!”

Godspell is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and this version by All Star Productions at Ye Olde Rose And Crown Theatre in Walthamstow will be swiftly followed by one at the Union Theatre in Southwark, keen to pay tribute to this rock opera with music by Stephen Schwartz, who later went on to write a little show called Wicked. It is based on the Gospel according to St Matthew, following the last days of Jesus’ life and featuring dramatised versions of well known parables in a vaguely hippy-inspired style with his disciples recast as a group of flower children around him.

This version has been updated to feature quite a few contemporary references but the hippy aesthetic is one that has endured and the timelessness of the stories being told: love thy neighbour, respect those around you, don’t cross over to the other side, means that it is a show which pushes love and tolerance rather than any particular religion which is why I think it remains so popular. That, and the score which contains some great songs, ‘Day By Day’, ‘Prepare Ye…’ and my favourite, ‘By My Side’. It needs a strong performer in the central role of Jesus, and this production was Brian Elrick fulfilling the role, full of righteous anger at those who do not follow his words, a touching compassion for those that do and a powerful voice which carried well through the small space above this pub. Continue reading “Review: Godspell, Ye Olde Rose and Crown”